The bus slows into electric blue light, gently strobing. Two police cars are parked up behind an ambulance, their whirling lamps scattering neon lighthouse sweeps into the pre-dawn gloom. We slowly process past the scene of the accident, as remote and numb as mourners behind smoked glass in a funeral limousine. There's a body splayed out across the curb, one bearded cheek sucked tight to the tarmac like a squared-off cartoon face pulled inexorably toward some U-shaped, subterranean magnet made by Acme. Police and paramedics kneel close by in calm attendance as the bus edges slowly past the open rear doors of the ambulance. 'There but for the grace... ' you think, instinctively acknowledging your own good fortune in not being outside, not being cruciformed out there in the road - not being him. Then suddenly in this blinking blue fridge door light, the daily rattle into work and all its chilly rigours has been transformed into a breeze, your bus into a sanctuary; warm and secure as a comfort blanket to a spooked child. Nothing like proximity to another's misfortune, pain or suffering to focus the mind, you think. 'It's an ill wind...' this unbidden, callous train persists. After all, look on the bright side. You might get a post out of this...
We pick up speed, the accident recedes as we hurtle through the January dark, almost back on track after this unwelcome, unscheduled interuption. Our journey starts to regain some of the digitised announcer's serenity. She intones the stages of our journey in the soothing, measured syllables of her pre-programmed m-peg mantra. Cyber woman. Computer world. You thought you'd left all that behind. "Relax..." she almost purrs with astonishing warmth and conviction given that it's only whatever clever voice simulation algorithim they've used that brings life to the perfuntorily keyed-in strings of binary code, "...everything's OK." And maybe she's right. Perhaps it's not quite so bad being here, not lying there; being safe and warm, not damaged and cold. Maybe this drone thing isn't going to be so bad. There are, surely, worse things in life to be than a drone, after all? A late drone, for one thing. Or a voice without a body announcing the stops on the bus. Or a cyberman.
But you've killed him off, that cyber you; the shimmering pixelated avatar is dead. Or if not dead, at least not you. Not any more. You're here, a fortunate, cosseted drone on his way to work. He's lying splayed out somewhere in his cyberworld, as cold and rigid as the bearded meatspace stiff you left behind a bus ride ago. Soon you'll be scuttling off the bus and into an ecologically lit office, with a water cooler and personalised workspaces cleaned by elegant women with covered heads, just like all the other drones. The morning will pass and the day will lighten. Your heart will be heavy for a while, as it always is after a bereavement - that's what's happened to you, after all; you have been bereaved, in a way, haven't you? Or been the cause of the bereavement which must surely bring some traumas of its own? But you'll survive. You'll live to drone another day. So relax, you're back in the land of the living, even though it might feel for a while like some kind of living death. You're back where you belong, where you should always have been; droning with the drones in the land of the drone. And it isn't so bad, is it? If you're honest. It's not been such a bad start to the week, really; just the two fatalities.